Numerous people search for Migration agents and Immigration Lawyers when dealing with the Department of Home Affairs or applying for an Australian Visa. However no legal requirement stipulates that an individual must use a migration agent or Immigration lawyer at any stage of their visa application process.

Only certain individuals can provide you with Migration advice on your visa application. If you decide to appoint someone to assist you, they must be a registered migration agent, a legal practitioner or an exempt person. It is not possible for any of the individuals who assist you to fast-track the processing period or guarantee that you will receive a visa.

Only registered migration agents and legal practitioners can charge for assisting with visa applications.

What does migration assistance look like?

Migration assistance is defined in s 275 of the Migration Act 1958 under section 276(1) provides that a person gives immigration assistance if they use, knowledge of the experience in migration procedure to assist another person by:


Preparing, or helping to prepare a visa application or cancellation.


Preparing for proceedings before a court


Advising another person about the visa application process.


Representing the other person in proceedings before a court to review authority in relation the visa application.

This is not Migration advice

Under s 276(3) of the Act, a person is not viewed as providing immigration assistance if they are merely:

  • Undertake clerical work to prepare or assist in preparation of an application document.
  • Provide translation or interpretation services to help prepare an application.
  • Advise that another person must apply or a visa.
  • Pass on information produced by a third party, without giving substantial comment or explanation of the information.


Difference between Migration Agents and Immigration Lawyers


There are many differences but both have a duty of clients confidentiality. Lawyers however are subject to additional obligations of the legal professional privilege that provides additional layers of protection for the clients. The legal professional privilege prevents lawyers from disclosing certain communication between them and the client, as such a client who has engaged a lawyer may be able to claim legal professional privilege if they wish to prevent the lawyer from disclosing information south by the Department pursuant to a notice being issued.

Migration Agents


Must meet professional standard.

Must be registered through Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) and will have a Migration Agent Registration Number (MARN).

Follow code of conduct.

Have 6-12 months of studying various aspects of Immigration Law.

Cannot provide any advice other than Migration advice.

Limited to only being able to provide Immigration advice.


Couple Holding up their Passports in Sunshine Coast

Immigration Lawyers


Australian migration laws are complex and are always changing. Lawyers have a very in depth understanding of laws and relevant immigration legislation.

Lawyers must act in accordance with the professional conduct rules of their relevant legal authority.

Immigration lawyers must meet certain standard of professionalism.

Unlike Migration Agents lawyers have to be registered with their relevant states legal authority as well as have professional indemnity insurance.

They can assist you if your visa gets cancelled or refused by going to the tribunal where Migration Agents are not allowed to provide legal advice. Immigration lawyers are able to assist with the same services as a migration agent in additional be able to provide full legal representation by providing a wide range of legal advice.

Since 22 March 2021 Lawyers can provide immigration assistance without the need to register with OMARA if they hold an unrestricted practising certificate. Unrestricted legal practitioners may/cannot be registered with MARA.

The most important thing for you as someone considering using a professional service to assist with your Migration is experience, ensure you work with someone that has experience with the type of visa you are applying for.



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Benefits of sourcing Migration assistance


Visa options that would best suit your specific circumstances explained to youand the best visa option recommended

A very important part of the visa application is deciding and ensuring that the visa you are planning to apply for is the best suited for not only what you want but which suits your unique set of circumstances the most. Applying for a visa where you do not match the criteria is never a good idea and most likely will result in your application being refused.


Relevant documents prepared to a very high standard

Once the decision has been made as to what visa will suit you best the next step is to gather and check that any required documents are the exact document the depart has requested/listed as a requirement. Ensure the document are clear and includes all relevant information. If the document is in any other language it will require to be translated into English by an authorised translator. (Authorised translators can be found on the DHA website). You and the documents to support your application trying to make it as easy as possible for the case officer to understand and do the relevant checks regarding evidence.

If you provide them with hard to understand or see documents then your chances of success or getting a quick response quickly depreciates as case officers have thousands of applications and the easier you make it for your case officer to ensure all relevant documents are included in the application the more likely of you getting a quicker decision made. All of this is made a lot easier by getting a professional with industry experience assisting and ensuring the before mentioned points are done correctly and submitted documents are done to the high professional standard.


Preparation and submission of application time –

There are many requirements that are part of every visa application to assist in the submission of a “successful” application.



Ensure your application is complete and the evidence/information provided are correct and to a high standard it can greatly assist the efficiency of your application and the likely hood of receiving a positive response and also possibly skip the DHA to send you a “request for further information otherwise known as an RFI.


Avoid common mistakes –

this can delay getting an outcome on your application at best, but there are numerous other delays that can occur as a result of making a “silly” mistake with your visa application.


Avoid a refusal and extra costs –

Avoid having your visa application refused and having to spend additional money to lodge another application. If you do get advice from a registered, trained and experienced Immigration lawyer or a Migration agent, it prevents you from having to spend additional money, due to one of the various mistakes that can be made when you lodge an application without an in depth understanding of the requirements and legislative framework that governs it.


Less stressful experience

In knowing you have lodged a complete application and have selected the correct visa that is best suited for your specific set of circumstances and goals.



Agents and Lawyers will keep and maintain records of all documentation and communication, this protects the client as all communication is kept.


In the know –

In using a Migration Lawyer, the process is fully explained and you are informed immediately when you receive your visa or any communication from the Department of Home Affairs. This helps you understand what your visa conditions are or how to deal with the DHA requesting more information, for example.


Expert knowledge of the area of Immigration Law –

As a very complicated area, legislation and regulations are regularly being amended or updated by the DHA. If you are unaware of where to look then you could find yourself getting potential visas refused and you having to spend a considerable amount of additional funds that might have been avoided. Better chance of success due to experience and understanding. As with most things in life getting experienced professional advice can definitely streamline your application process.


Have questions about your Visa? Get in touch with our professional Migration team today.


We specialise in navigating the issues that can arise in the midst of your Visa application. We can assist you in achieving a positive outcome for all matters Migration. Contact us today to arrange an appointment.


The above information provided in this article is not meant to be used as Legal or Immigration Advice. Please check the Department of Home Affairs website for any information relating to Immigration.

Greenhalgh Pickard’s Migration law team